BOSTON – Jae Crowder was walking back to his locker, more gingerly than usual, with a noticeable limp.
Not to worry Celtics fans.
“I think the (ankle) tape was just too tight,” he told CSNNE.com. “I’m good, though.”
Yes he was.
There were a number of Celtics players whose performances were key to Boston’s 103-94 win over Indiana.
But Crowder’s play at both ends of the floor stood out not only for its impact but also because he was facing Paul George who is one of the top players in the NBA at the wing position.
“He’s tough, real tough,” Crowder said. “He makes you work, for sure.”
But work has never been an issue for Crowder, a former second round pick who signed a five-year, $35 million deal with the Celtics this summer that’s looking like the steal of this past offseason.
His play has certainly turned many heads of late, including head coach Brad Stevens who has acknowledged how Crowder’s play has been among the more pleasant surprises for him since he became the Celtics’ head coach two-plus seasons ago.
“Jae’s good. Jae’s improved,” Stevens said. “You know he’s only been here a year and I told you last year I’m not sure I knew quite all that he could do, and he just keeps adding to it.”
A former point guard in high school, Stevens has used Crowder at times this season to bring the ball upcourt and initiate the offense.
“He’s really improved his game,” Stevens said.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday night’s game.
He has been a role player throughout his career, impacting games in ways that don’t always show up on the final stat sheet. On Wednesday, Johnson made his mark in a very real, very tangible way with a double-double of 17 points and a season-high 18 rebounds along with a career high-tying six assists.
At the rate Crowder’s game is growing, it won’t be long before he will be in the conversation as a potential all-star. Crowder had a strong game at both ends of the floor, scoring a career high-tying 25 points on 11-for-15 shooting while playing really solid defense on Paul George.
Thomas’ scoring spree remains alive and well with another monster game. He led all players with 28 points on 9-for-18 shooting. And when the game mattered most – the fourth quarter – Thomas stood out in leading all players with eight points in the fourth quarter.
This was not one of George’s better games, and certainly Jae Crowder’s defense had something to do with that. Still, George managed to score a team-high 23 points on 7-for-20 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists.
Turner never seemed to get into any kind of flow or rhythm for Boston, going scoreless while missing all five of his shots from the field. Of players for the Celtics who logged at least 20 minutes like Turner, he had the team’s worst plus/minus (-12).